Monday, January 24, 2011

Defunding Public Broadcasting Represents A Failing America

Plans put forth by Republicans like Rep. Doug Lamborn to eliminate all funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting reveal a basic lack of understanding when considering the value of arts, education, and public discourse for our society.

And the cost currently of funding - some $420 million - is just a bit more than one dollar per year from every American. That's too much to help produce and promote the arts in America? Too much to promote educational programming for children? Too much to provide public debate on the issues of our nation?

What a shame to see so little vision from our leaders.

While I'm sure public broadcasting will endure - thanks to the millions and millions of Americans and tens of thousands of businesses who give financial support to the CPB - this loss of valuing arts, education and much more has a crushing impact on our society.

Beyond the truly meaningless "savings" the Republicans proclaim, what lies at the root of the issue is a cultural emptiness among our leaders in government - to no longer place value on any of the arts - music, film, dance, theatre - and no value on the promotion of literacy for children.

An individual won't get rich on tax dollars working in public broadcasting - but they can enrich the spirit of our nation and our creativity, which seeks something other than celebrity, fame or high profit returns. Explorations of our world and ourselves which are limited to whatever the market allows will present a most hollow, shallow culture.

States, cities and county governments could easily fall into this abrupt dismissal of valuing arts and education, which is barely acknowledged even now. Perhaps even at the best, government funding has only been a token, but there is an acknowledged value - without that, many generations to come will also fail to grasp the importance of arts, education and a richly diverse cultural world.

Such rejection will not eliminate the human desire for more than tangible, bankable products. It will simply mean that America will abdicate being a leader, making us a distant follower, as we are today in science and math.

Sadly, we'll likely see Tennessee's congressional delegation embrace this dumbing down of our culture in hopes of being re-elected. What a high price for their power.


  1. Anonymous4:16 PM

    So before 1970 when how ever did we explore our world? Without CPB I do not see how Magellan or Pizzaro or Amundsen or Hillary could have ever had the great vision to see beyond the horizon.

  2. gee, Anon - i dunno - didn't Spain's Government fund Magellan and Pizaro while business and professional scientific societies funded the other explorers you mention?

    whoops, sorry, your point wasn't serious was it? just a joke to you. how intelligent and classy.

  3. Anonymous8:10 PM

    We explored, or should I say exploited, the world during the time of Magellan on the bases of greed. Taking advantage of a population that had a very limited understanding of the world. Utilizing fear and misunderstanding during periods like the Spanish Inquisition to confiscate property of nonbelievers to fund war and the exploration of the new world.

    Now jump ahead a few hundred years and the current Bush Crusade shows how little we have changed. To help educate and enhance the quality of our lives it is imperative that public broadcasting is maintained. If we rely solely on commercial enterprise we are lost to the corporate machine. Sports channel and reality TV do nothing to help us understand our world and to live full lives that are meaningful.

  4. Richard Cook9:39 AM


    You miss the point entirely. NPR is government radio, funded by big government to advocate for big government. This is why the Republicans want to kill it. It has a liberal bias that it won't even acknowledge. Fox is not fair and balanced and neither is NPR.
    Technology has lowered barriers to entry to all the arts. Hell. I cranked out a little ten minute documentary on my desktop computer. We don't need NPR. There are thousands of outlets for the creative class. Government radio needs to disappear.

  5. Richard -

    NPR receives no direct funding from the federal government.
    They do receive about 1.5 percent of their operating funds from the CPB. If Republicans want to bar that 1.5 percent, so be it.

    But their goal is to eliminate CPB completely.

    "Government radio" is not NPR. "Government radio" is the Voice of America, which is fully funded by taxpayers at a cost in 2010 of $206.5 million dollars.
    By contrast, NPR, which is funded mostly by fees and private support, has a total operations budget of about $164 million, and only 1.5 percent of that figure comes from the CPB.